Wood Flooring

Why your hardwood floor may be buckling

by Roy Akirov
February, 2020

Hardwood floors are an attractive feature in any home. Not only do they look absolutely amazing, but they’re also built to last and look good with any interior design scheme. Low-maintenance and resistant to fading, it’s little wonder that homeowners choose to invest in this premium flooring option. Unfortunately, various factors can cause hardwood floor buckling. Buckling occurs when the floorboards expand. If they can’t expand outwards, they push upwards, causing unevenness, instability and an unsightly appearance. If your floor starts to buckle, you will probably need professional assistance both to fix the damage and also to address the root cause of the problem, reducing the risk of a re-occurrence. Here we take a look at some of the reasons why your hardwood floor may be buckling and what you can do to resolve the issue.

What is buckling?

Because wood is a natural, organic material, it’s porous. This means that, should it come into contact with water, the water can be absorbed. Water absorption causes the wood to swell. Particularly if the wooden floor absorbs large quantities of water, the boards can swell so much they can no longer remain in alignment with each other. Because there is no room for the boards to expand laterally, they expand vertically instead. It is this vertical expansion which causes the boards to misalign, causing unwanted buckling. The problem can be made worse by wet boards which are subject to repeated temperature changes. The change in water volume in the board, due to the cycle of condensation and evaporation, can further warp and weaken the wood, creating further buckling and floor deterioration.

humidity effect on wooden floor

Water damage is a key reason for hardwood floor buckling

It’s fairly obvious that if your hardwood floor has been submerged in water, buckling is likely. In addition to natural floodwater, floods from a leaking washing machine, plumbing leak or burst pipe can also mean that your floor ends up wet. The longer the water is allowed to lie on the boards, the higher the risk of buckling.

In addition to flooding, there are a number of other ways in which moisture can be introduced into the boards. If a hardwood floor is located in a room with high humidity, the risk of warping is increased. This is why a hardwood floor is rarely seen in a kitchen or bathroom – traditionally areas where humidity is high at certain times. Humidity may also be high due to living in a naturally warm, humid climate (such as on the west coast). Even homes with appropriate climate control may find that, over time, their wooden floor begins to warp.

As well as atmospheric humidity, water may also be introduced onto the floor through unsuitable cleaning methods. Ideally, a hardwood floor requires nothing more than a sweep and a mop with a tightly wrung mop. It’s recommended that the floor is dried after washing, using either a dry mop or a cloth. If pools of water are left on the floor to dry naturally, the water may well simply absorb into the wood.

Poor installation may be to blame for hardwood floor buckling

Although some of the reasons for buckling are beyond the control of the installer, good installation can help to alleviate many causes. Here are just some of the common installation faults which can lead to buckling:

How to reduce the risk of a buckled hardwood floor

If you’ve discovered hardwood floor buckling, prompt professional attention can stop it from getting worse as well as rectify the damage. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help with hardwood floor buckling today.

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